THE DARK AGES 105 inflections. I am full of indignation at the thought of britj^iner the words of the heavenly oracle into subjection to die"*«Ie&~ of Donatus." It is in the same spirit that he deals with what was evidently an attempt to institute a school of higher learning under episcopal auspices. "We are almost ashamed to refer to the fact that a report has come to us that your brotherhood is teaching grammar to certain people/* he writes to Desiderius, Bishop of Vienne. "This grieves us all the more because it makes a deplorable change in our opinion of you. The same mouth cannot sing the praise of Christ and the praise of Jupiter. Just consider what a discraceful thing it is for a bishop to speak of what would be unseemly even for a pious layman. If it should be clearly proved hereafter that the report we have heard is false and that you are not devoting yourself to the vanities of worldly learning, we shall render thanks to God for keeping your heart from defilement by the blasphemous praises of infamous men."* Those who hold that the study of the ancient literatures found immediate refuge in the Church at the break-up of the municipal schools have tried to read this letter as meaning that Gregory condemned Desiderius, not because he taught secular literature, but because he did so at the expense of the sacred literature. The letter, however, will not bear this interpretation. The obvious implication of it is that Gregory regarded the pagan classics as contrary to the very spirit of Christianity. If this view is sound, we have to think of the ignorance and prejudice prevail- ing in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries as shared by the Church and especially by the monasteries; and so far as the latter are concerned the responsibility to a considerable extent must be laid on Gregory, whose great influence did much to impose the Benedictine Rule in its original narrow form on the monasteries of Western Europe. This is borne out by the fact that with one exception there is no certain evidence of any considerable degree of scholarship, outside the sphere of religion, in any of the lands under the papal jurisdiction till near the end of the Eighth Century. The one exception was Spain, where intellectual life was kept vigorous by the Arian controversy. The orthodox side at its best was represented there by Isidore (570-636), Bishop of Seville, the most learned man of his age. Isidore did not differ greatly from Epistles, ad, 54.